Missing In Action–Deadline To Grade School Chief Extended

The job evaluation of Superintendent of Schools Aresta Johnson has caused a dust-up among some Board of Education members following chairman John Weldon’s decision to extend the process by 10 days for others who did not meet the agreed-upon August 8th submission deadline. Weldon extended the deadline for board members Dennis Bradley and Jessica Martinez, according to board member Maria Pereira. Bradley on Tuesday defeated Aaron Turner in the Democratic primary for State Senate in Connecticut’s 23rd District. Martinez served as his campaign treasurer. Pereira supported Turner.

Under state law the job performance of district school superintendents must be evaluated each year. The board established  a review timetable in June. Pereira asserts she fulfilled her board obligations despite working long hours on Turner’s campaign. Teachers report to school August 27th and students August 30th, a short timeline from the anticipated review.

On Thursday Weldon issued this email to school board members.

I’m in the process of calling a Special Meeting for Tues., August 21st at 6:30 p.m.  items will be on the agenda:

— Discussion and Possible Action on BEA Grievance No. 2760, Change in Healthcare Plan

— Annual Performance Evaluation of Superintendent Aresta L. Johnson, Ed.D

My apologies, but not everyone has submitted their reviews thus far but, after speaking with those who are outstanding, I anticipate they will by submitted no later than Saturday. In reliance on that, I’m scheduling the meeting (if they aren’t turned in by then, we will proceed with what we have).

Whatever is turned in by Saturday will be used to finalize the score matrix and list of focus areas, which I will send to everyone, along with each Board Member’s individualized comment as to how they arrived at the scores they did.

Separately, so you are aware, Dr. Johnson has been kept apprised of this and is comfortable with it–She wants as may people to provide feedback as possible, and if a couple of more days allows for that, she’s been agreeable to waiting. However, the line does need to be drawn somewhere, which is why I’m setting the meeting for Tuesday.

Last, I don’t think we’ve addressed this: Was it everyone’s intention to provide her with the review at the meeting, or in advance of it so she can ask us questions about it at the meeting in the event she wants to provide a written response (which she has a right to do under this process). Personally, I think it would be pointless to provide it to her at the meeting and expect her to go through it with us, unless you want to provide it Tuesday and adjourn to another time when she can talk with us about it after she’s had time to digest it. Food for thought–Let me know what you think is most appropriate–and again, my apologies for the delay.

Pereira’s response:

Mr. Weldon,

You are unbelievable.

On whose authority are you circumventing the process and deadlines the Board voted unanimously to approve?

All Board members have other obligations and I know for a fact that Ben, Joseph and I met all the deadlines we set.

Now you have decided you are going to alter the process and deadlines to accomodate completely irresponsible BOE members who failed to fulfil their responsibilities as board members.

I want my FOI request fulfilled. Hernan sent me his email to you with the attachment which was sent after the deadline.

I want the others sent to me.

We are back -to -school in about ten days and the Superintendent does not have her evaluation, goals or objectives.

This is completely unacceptable and unfair to her. You have left her no time to formulate and implement a plan to meet her goals and objectives BEFORE the school year begins.

Who are the BOE members that missed tbe deadline of August 8th and still have not submitted their evaluations as of today?

School board member Ben Walker’s response:

Mr. Weldon,

You have no authority to unilaterally extend a deadline discussed, voted on, and approved by the majority of the duly elected Board at an official meeting. Anyone who missed this deadline must have their submissions discarded and they shall not be counted as part of the Superintendent’s evaluation.

Being a member of this board is an obligation and its deadlines should be met in a professional manner. Any behavior otherwise is disrespectful of and diminishes the work of the rest of the members.

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31 comments

  1. John Weldon, You receive the “big bucks” as Chair of the Board, but from where I sit in many classes and courses, failure to turn an assignment in on time earns an F, doesn’t it?

    Within the past two weeks I talked about how to usually earn success as a person coming from: SHOW UP — ON TIME — DRESSED TO PLAY!!! Another way of saying it is PRESENCE — PUNCTUALITY–PREPARED. If a member does not model behavior for 21,000 students what are they doing? Time will tell.

  2. There are several issues here.

    First, John Weldon is not a King. The Board of Education is the governing body made up of nine (9) equal members. The Board voted unanimously that all completed evaluations, including all eight (8) Domain ratings, the Evaluation Summary, and Focus Areas were to be submitted to John Weldon by Wednesday, August 8th. In addition, the BOE voted unanimously that John Weldon would distribute a spreadsheet of the total rating of each Domain and each board members comments for each domain. It was also to include suggested Focus Areas by category. Those categories that were most prevalent would be lifted as Dr. Johnson’s Focus Areas. John Weldon was also directed to see if Dr. Johnson was available to meet with the Board to discuss her evaluation on Thursday, August 17, 2018.

    Mr. Weldon did not comply with one directive the Board gave him. Not one.

    Second, Dr. Johnson is a first year Superintendent that has dealt with debilitating cuts including going from four (4) Asst. Superintendents to two (2) with just two months notice. To put that in perspective, New Haven has about the same number of students and the New Haven BOE voted to authorize their new superintendent to have a Chief of Staff, four (4) Assistant Superintendents and a Communications Director.

    Third, teachers report back on August 28th and students report on August 31st. If the evaluation is now delivered on Tuesday, August 22, that will leave Dr. Johnson just five (5) days to create and implement a plan to meet her goals & objectives before staff returns and just eight (8) days before our 21,000 students return.

    Is this in any way appropriate and professional conduct towards Dr. Johnson by John Weldon and his cohort?

  3. The Board set four dates in June around the evaluation process. The only individual at the time that expressed a concern was Ben Walker. He had already set vacation plans for the two Q & A sessions we would have with the Superintendent. He committed to reading all the material and reaching out to Dr. Johnson if he needed any further information.

    At the very first Q & A Chris Taylor announced he would not be able to participate in the Superintendent’s evaluation because he had a “conflict”. He was recusing himself.

    The Board only has one employee which is Dr. Johnson. If you have a “conflict” which keeps you from evaluating your employee, how can you serve on the BOE as one of her supervisors?

    At my suggestion, Dr. Johnson prepared a binder for each of us with eight (8) tabs, one for each domain. Each tab contained data, examples, correspondence, newsletters, etc. relevant to a particular evaluation Domain.

    Dennis Bradley, attended both Q & A sessions without any of the materials, a pen, paper, etc.

    Jessica Martinez missed the first Q & A due to a health issue with her day, but attended the second one without any of the materials.

    Sybll Allen attended the first Q & A without any of the materials as did John Weldon.

    The third meeting was scheduled for Thursday, August 12th where we were all to meet in executive session to review our completed evaluations, give our score for each of the eight (8) domains and support any rating of a 1, 2, or 4 with specific examples, data, etc. Any rating of a three (3) did not require supporting commentary because it was basically a meets expectations.

    Dennis Bradley did not show -up. John Weldon and Jessica Martinez verbally gave their ratings without a single word documented to support their ratings. They had not even started writing their evaluations.

    Hernan had ratings and some documentation in the form of bullets which was not appropriate for a formal evaluation.

    Sybll Allen, Ben Walker, Joseph Sokolovic and I were the only members who had fully met the required deadline.

    We had originally set the date of Thursday, August 26, 2018 to deliver the evaluation to Dr. Johnson. However, she was on vacation so we voted to change the timeline as noted above.

    Hernan sent me his evaluation which he submitted on August 9th which did not meet the deadline. Joseph, Ben and I made the deadline although I was working morning to night on Aaron Turner’s campaign.

    Campaigning does NOT take priority over the statutory obligations of serving as a school board member, therefore there is absolutely no excuse for this absolute dereliction of duty by Dennis Bradley, Jessica Martinez and John Weldon. Absolutely none.

  4. No one can be surprised by the conduct of Dennis Bradley and his inability to follow directions and to do his job. Bridgeport you continue to surprise me when you constantly elect these do nothing, wannabes that bring nothing to the table based on the recommendations of an ass kissing, do nothing, head up ass of the DTC, district leader. Bridgeport you deserve better than this Sambo.

  5. Off topic but….
    JML, I just saw the first negative ad against Lamont paid for by a PAC. Don’t know if it’s a Super PAC or not.
    Do we report these to you or directly to Professor Rose?
    Who is the official score keeper?

  6. A message to the do nothings on the BOE. How can you grade the superintendent when you do not give her the tools necessary to do an adequate job/ Mr. Taylor stop playing games and acting as a child. If you dont want to do the BOE work resign ND Check with Ernie N on what your next move should be. To all members of the BOE stop playing politics and for once think of the kids.

  7. *** Bpt. BOE is a thankless board with politically minded board members that don’t follow their own Robert’s rules of order, let alone rules that pertain to the Bpt.public schools rules & regulations for students & staff & admin. union approved guidelines. Its been dysfunctional in the past & still today in the present with very little hope of positive change for the future. They need a police officer present during meeting, with complete assurance from board members to stay on the meeting agenda & enforce the public speaking times aswell. Any old news or business can be covered afterward without the usual free for all speaking coming from the board & attending public. There are rules, regulations & meeting guidelines that should be inforced & followed by all. ***

  8. Mojo, I agree with the direction of your comment, however you paint with brush that is entirely too wide. There are those on the board who are singularly focused on the education of our children and who appreciate the need to follow procedures. We understand the importance of our office and the limitations thereof. Unfortunately, there are also those in office who operate under a peripheral agenda; either theirs (chronyism) or others (patronage).

    It is this “painting with a wide brush” that makes service on the board thankless. Please, if you have a problem with me, address it with me. Otherwise, never lump me in with the likes of Mr. Bradley, Mr. Weldon, or Mr. Taylor.

    Thank you.

        1. Nope. Wrong again. Just like your pick in the 23rd. Oh, but you do not care about Aaron. You are happy with your district, btw, where you lost your town committee seat (guess the chairs are not big enough), did not sway towards Dennis. You do not care that Aaron lost. The BOE would probably be able to function somewhat smoothly if you would just take yourself out of the equation. Do it for the children you say you care so much about.

          1. You are a city employee and Lennie Grimaldi personally confirmed it. The only way you get to post on OIB utilizing a handle is if you are a city employee.

            You are a coward that would never have the courage to say what you post here to me directly.

            I don’t hide behind handles like you, In the City.

            I take a position, can articulate why I that position, and will stand firm on my position. I will post it here, place it on the record in a formal proceeding, and state it directly to any individual I need to.

            You on the other hand clearly lack confidence, lack conviction, and most importantly lack any level of courage.

            Crawl back into your taxpayer funded cubicle now.

          2. In the City, the chairs must certainly be big enough because Ganim’s treasurer won a seat and Anthony Paoletto is a 22 year old that easily weighs over 300 pounds.:)

  9. *** If my blog comments invoked thee, it was my intention’s Mr. Walker. The broad brush is used as to not call out by name every member; for those that know what the BOE struggles are, yet do little to bring any attention to the problems are themselves part of the problem! A comparison of individual board members is not needed, for the board should be working as a unit, not individual’s with their separate agenda’s.***

    1. Mojo, very good points and the BBOE had an attorney running the meeting when he was the President of the BBOE, Dennis Bradley, he couldn’t chair at meeting right and was the person who stopped all BBOE business by holding a boycott and now he’s going to take that same mindset and talent to the State Senate.

  10. Ah, Mojo. I’ve ready enough of your blog posts to doubt your concern for calling out by name every board member. It’s one of your endearing qualities. But, before you criticize too harshly those who keep their own counsel, walk a mile in the other’s shoes. It is by choice that some prefer the anonymity of the body as a whole. As it should be, for we could be not nine, but one. If you have not had the honor to serve, then you indeed have no idea. But, blog on. It’s easier than walking that mile…and ever so much more entertaining.

    1. *** I have served on the city council for 6-yrs. & was asked by the powers that be at that time, if I wanted to serve on the Bpt. BOE? My answer was “no”, its a thankless duty & board that has failed the city’s public schools for decades! You don’t need to serve in the belly of the beast to understand its politics, thank-you! ***

      1. Right, because the City Council has done such a fabulous job of representing the interests of public school children, residents, tax payers, etc. LOL!

        1. *** Much better than the BBOE; past, present & appears to be headed in the same direction for the future unless its duty’s & financial budget is taken over by the State of Ct. & independent from the city budget with only certain in-house services provided by the city of Bpt. Always room for improvement though nothing can help the BBOE but to be completely dissolved & taken over by the State. ***WHAT SAY YOU?***

          1. Mojo, i agree and disagree. If the mouth would step down, i bet they would get more done. But her ego is bigger than (well you know), so she will have to be voted out.

          2. In the City is an absolute coward feeding off taxpayers.

            In the City, do you actually have a spine?

          3. Mojo,

            You are dilusional?

            The same City Council that passed the largest tax increase in Bridgeport’s history while being fully aware that Bridgeport experiences the largest number of foreclosures in CT?

            The same City Council that appropriated only an additional $1.4 million for 21,00p innocent public school children over the last three years?

            The same City Council that was informed the BPD overspent OT by over $2,000,000 and did nothing about it?

            The same City Council in which some members utilize tax payer funded stipends to send out Christmas cards, pay cable bills, grocery bills, etc.?

            That City Council?

  11. It is 6:20 pm on Sunay night, nine days after John Weldon was required to supply all BOE members with a spreadsheet with the average ratings and supporting commentary, and we have STILL not received the spreadsheet in question.

    1. *** Even though 50% of this present city council members are rubber stamper’s; they attempt to deal with much more city issues than the BBOE does. Public education, the schools, its staff & children are issues the BBOE has failed in over-looking time & time again. Dilusional you say,its “Delusional” with an (e), Please take your meds! ***

  12. Mojo,

    I gave you several factual points regarding the city council’s failure to appropriately represent the interesta of a variety of their constituents, and your only response is to reference a typo and direct me to “take my meds.”

    That’s when you know you’ve won the argument. 🙂

    I have been posting from my phone all day. I have actually made several typos today. You, however, consistently have difficulty posting well-thought out sentences, with the correct spelling, basic punctuation, etc.

    For example, what are ‘rubber stamper’s” with an apostrophe no less?

    Hmmm…

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